Lime Ergot

By Rust Blight, aka Caleb Wilson. Written for Ectocomp 2014.

You and the general are the last ones left on the island of St Stellio, and she wants adrink. You’re the lower-ranking officer, so it’s up to you to get the drinkdone.

The game
consists of find-the-object puzzles through descriptions which act like nested
dolls (‘telescopic’ descriptions?). Examining one object reveals another, which
reveals another, which reveals another… This device was ingenious, keeping the
game’s scope small without feeling contrived. The writing is lush and
evocative, and suited the mildly hallucinatory state of the PC. Lime Ergot is a
well-thought-out, tidy piece for one written in three hours.

Similar to Castle of the Red Prince.

playing time: 30 mins

Weird City Interloper

By C. E. J. Pacian. (Parser-based; IFDB)

Weird City Interloper is a short conversation-based romp through a fantastical city in the vein of Porpentine’s works – peopled with fascinating and fantastical characters.

For a game with no location descriptions to speak of, it was surprisingly atmospheric in its descriptions of the slums and the stenchworks, and spoke of a society more well thought-out than one might expect from such a short game. The hints of detail suggested a city like Miéville’s New Crobuzon: highly stratified, with each social strata having elaborate rituals and norms; and highly industrialised, with the cogs of machinery merging with the eldritch.

All we know of the NPCs are their replies in conversation, and Pacian makes full use of this by giving each character a distinct voice and take on common topics. The game also comes with a very friendly hint system, in the form of a streetwise city guide. It took a bit of a leap of logic to figure out how to progress, I must admit, but the logic in the rest of the story is consistent.

Weird City Interloper was similar to Walker and Silhouette or Castle of the Red Prince in its unusual navigation, and the game lives up to its description as being shallow but broad, and makes for short (less than an hour) but colourful play.

A Dress Rehearsal Gone Terribly Wrong

A Dress Rehearsal Gone Terribly Wrong by Dierdra Kiai.

In this Undum game, You are Ainsley M. Warrington and you are an acclaimed director. Tonight’s play is James Dough’s Nothing’s Fair in Love, Art or War. And the quote pretty much sums up the premise of the game:

All right, Ainsley. This is it. Just one more run through the entire play, and we’ll be all good to go. Never mind that your leading lady had a serious allergic reaction to the face paint and needed to be replaced at the very last minute. And for that matter, never mind that the rest of the cast has only had a grand total of two weeks to rehearse.

Plot: Solid through and through. There is some character development and some really sweet moments which make this game very worth playing.

(Found this game through Emily Short’s blog post)

Earl Grey

by Rob Dubbin and Adam Parish.

Earl Grey is a wordplay game. You have been tasked to collect loads of kinds of teas, apparently, and the mysterious, monastic Eaves has given you one weapon to deal with any enemies that might come your way: a runebag. This will turn fathers in feathers and kings into kins. Potentially dangerous.

Then all hell breaks loose and a town is engulfed in a fireball! You have to help!

The writing is conversational and amusing, especially the PC’s asides. The whole premise of the game is really quite clever, but some of the puzzles are not straightforward. I had to play with occasional peeks at the walkthrough…

There is a well-defined and well-paced plot, although most of the fun is in trying to solve the puzzles and watching the bizarre outcomes of playing with your runebag.

There are a few timed puzzles; getting the wordplay right while watching the time can get annoying. But the game is quite forgiving in this aspect and always gave the player a chance to try again.

You may be put off by the unfair puzzles, but it is sufficiently amusing to make the time spent worth it.

A Small Talk at the Back of Beyond

This post is part of the backing-up process of another blog.

by scriptwelder. In late beta. Playable here.

The AI system informs you that you are in a shelter after a nuclear war destroyed most of the earth. You have lost your memory (as usual); there’s not much place else to go, so there’s just one thing to do: converse.

This game is very short and has just one major twist which can only be reached by asking one specific question. Unfortunately, as far as I could tell, was unconnected to anything the NPC had said or which was in the scene. The ending is somewhat abrupt, though play was generally enjoyable.

Mechanics: A Small Talk at the Back of Beyond is a hybrid game, with a rather minor graphical component and user interface. Conversation is carried out with natural language (“who are you?”)  instead of the usual ASK [someone] ABOUT [something], which can be disorienting for those used to traditional IF.

Madam Spider’s Web

by Sara Dee.

You are a servant girl in Madam Spider’s subtly terrifying house, and you have been tasked to clean up. The house is small and self-contained, though there are a number of treats and surprises in some places. The game took me less than an hour of play.

Plot: The first half of this game is mostly puzzle-based, with rather little in the way of characterisation of the major NPC, the eponymous Madam Spider. There are some creepy parts which were subtly implemented, which did add atmosphere. However these were largely ambiguous and did not do much to progress the game. After the major plot twist (which is somewhat unsurprising), it is strictly linear. There might be some metaphors going on in the game, though, which I haven’t deciphered.

Mechanics: This game is definitely well-designed. Consists of a number of small, straightforward puzzles, but even the most clueless puzzler can complete the game with the adaptive hint system. Would have been more satisfying had the puzzles been more complex or more challenging, but that’s just me.